Can one do good medical ethics without principles?

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The criteria for determining what it is to do good medical ethics are the quality of ethical analysis and ethical justifications for decisions and actions. Justifications for decisions and actions rely on ethical principles, be they the ‘famous four’ or subsidiary ethical principles relevant to specific contexts. Examples from clinical ethics, research ethics and public health ethics reveal that even when not stated explicitly, principles are involved in ethical justifications. Principles may come into conflict, however, and the resolution of an ethical dilemma requires providing good reasons for preferring one principle over another.

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